The NFL Week 18 game list is a must-see for anyone who loves high-stakes football, as long as they also enjoy the scoreboard-watching elements and slightly confusing playoff tiebreaks.
It’s been an eventful week for players and fans who watched in horror Monday night as the Buffalo Bills rescue Damar Hamlin. fainted on the field and had to be given artificial respiration before leaving for the field in an ambulance. A few days later, the same players and fans happily watched Hamlin recover.
This makes it much easier to focus on the last week of the NFL, which will determine the fate of many teams in the playoffs.
One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Aaron Rodgers, is facing a situation where the Green Bay Packers take on the Detroit Lions. One of the greatest coaches of all time, Bill Belichick, and his New England Patriots need a win over the mighty Bills or they could end up on the couch watching the playoffs.
Kansas City took first place in the AFC overall standings with a 31–13 win over Las Vegas on Saturday. The first NFC spot is still open. It remains to be seen how much the AFC draw will be affected by the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game following Hamlin’s injury.
Here are some things worth seeing:
WHAT IS THE PLAY OFF FORMAT?
This is the third year in a row in the current NFL playoff format, featuring the top seven teams from both the AFC and NFC.
The four division winners in both conferences automatically receive the top four seeds, regardless of record, and then the top three top-scoring teams that did not win their division are wildcarded. This is why wildcard picks quite often have a better record but worse playoff seed than the team that finished division winner.
The No. 1 seeded team in each conference advances to the second round, while the No. 2 team hosts No. 7, No. 3 hosts No. 6, and No. 4 hosts No. 5 during Wildcard Weekend.
The NFL has a policy of re-seeding after each round of the playoffs. This means that no matter how the bracket started, the lowest seeded team will always advance to the higher seeded team.
The playoffs have four rounds: the wild-card round will take place on January 14-15, the divisional round on January 21-22, the conference championship games on January 29, and the Super Bowl on February 12. in Glendale, Arizona.
WHAT HAS CHANGED WITH THE CANCELLED BILLS-BENGALS?
The Bills-Bengals game had major playoff ramifications in the AFC, so the game being canceled due to Hamlin’s injury could see some changes depending on Week 18 or playoff results.
The AFC Championship will be played at a neutral venue if the participating teams have played an unequal number of games and both could have finished first and host the game if all AFC clubs had played a full 17-game regular season.
The league is considering multiple venues, including indoor and outdoor stadiums.
There are plenty of scenarios – especially for the Bengals, Bills and Chiefs – depending on the results ahead. The list is quite long. AP is broken these potential matches.
WHAT ARE THE BIG GAMES GOING ON THIS WEEKEND?
In fairly straightforward playoff drama, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 20-16 on Saturday night to win the AFC South for the first time in five seasons. The Titans needed a win to make the playoffs.
packers and Rodgers also has a direct path to the playoffs.. If they beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambo Field, they’ll hit the net. If they lose, they are out. The Lions are also on the hunt for the playoffs, but they need to beat the Packers and hope the Seahawks lose to the Rams.
WHAT OTHER GAMES TO WATCH IN WEEK 18?
On Sunday, the New England Patriots will face the Bills in a game that will be closely watched for many reasons.
First, there’s the obvious storyline of the Bills playing less than a week after Hamlin’s emotional situation. But there are also serious consequences for the playoffs.
The Patriots could punch their ticket into the postseason with an upset win. If they lose, they will need the help of other teams. The Bills are still in contention for the top spot in the AFC, depending on what the Chiefs do against the Raiders on Saturday night.
Also of note: the Miami Dolphins, who are probably under third quarterback Skylar Thompson. need a win over the New York Jets (and help from other teams) qualify for the playoffs. In Philadelphia, the Eagles could take first place in the NFC overall if they beat the New York Giants.
Even the Pittsburgh Steelers have a chance. They have to beat the Browns on Sunday and then hope the Patriots and Dolphins lose.
AP Pro Football journalist Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.
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